A Port Alberni resident who fights in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) abroad wants to bring the sport Tseshaht’s Maht Mahs gym in the Valley.
Sam Barney, 29, fights in the MMA welterweight category.
In July at Kamloops Sagebursh Downs Barney braved a thumb injury and blitzed his way through is opponents to go 3-0 and win his division’s title.
“There are certain things a person is just made to do and I’m made to do this,” he said.
Barney has fought at MMA events in Nanaimo and in Kamloops.
The Nanaimo event attracted more than 800 people to the Port Theatre in addition to the 40 fighters and their supporters.
Seeing that many people at an MMA event gave Barney an idea.
“I want to see if I can rent Maht Mahs gym for one night and bring MMA here sometime in 2012,” he said.
They gym is located on the Tseshaht reserve, holds up to 500 people and has a commercial kitchen facility.
The sport isn’t a bloodfest of mayhem like some would think, Barney said.
“There’s weight categories, rules, regulations and referees so it’s a lot safer than people think.”
“I’ve seen more fights and guys getting hurt at floor hockey tournaments.”
It wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to bring MMA to the Valley.
Nanaimo fight promoter Don Arnott withdrew his request to host an MMA event in Port Alberni city limits after city council soured on the idea.
But Barney’s initiative would take place on federal reserve land and would require the Tseshaht council’s support.
Barney hasn’t spoken to Tseshaht officials yet but said he hopes to approach them soon with is idea.
“Don (Arnott) said if they’re interested then he is,” Barney said.
MMA has been of interest to Barney since his childhood.
“My dad bought me boxing gloves, a speed bag and a heavy bag when I was 10 years old,” he said.